Inaction in Washington

Rep. Tom Rice | The crises crisis

February 12, 2013 

Washington is broken.

Recently, we deferred the debt ceiling crisis until May 15. Whew!

It has been only 30 days since we hung by our fingernails over the edge of the fiscal cliff! Now we face the dreaded sequester. And in March the battle over the continuing resolution looms.

The government of the greatest nation on Earth is reduced to emergency management. We lurch from one crisis to the next, acting only at the last minute and when forced to. Winston Churchill is often credited with saying “A failure to plan is a plan to fail.” To succeed we must stop being reactive and begin to act proactively. We need a long term plan. That is management 101.

These endless crises are manufactured by Washington and played out with great drama in Washington. They will continue until we address the real underlying problem. We spend far more than we take in.

Most troubling is that both parties delayed this latest set of crises until after the election. Or maybe you believe they did not foresee that raising all those taxes on the same day, six weeks after the election, places a huge drag on an already weak economy. They knew it was coming for a year and a half. They could have used that time to formulate pro-growth restructuring to make our safety net sustainable, invigorate the economy and shrink our deficit. But they focused instead on the election.

The day after the election, they shouted, “fiscal cliff!” They passed a thrown together plan that was good for nobody, that does nothing to help our economy, on the last minute of the last day, only hours before a new Congress was sworn in.

Both parties admit that we must restructure. Blueprints have been devised. The Republican House has passed a budget every year; they put forth a plan to get our deficit under control; they passed a set of alternative cuts to avoid sequester. The Senate has refused to take them up. No plan has moved forward. Instead of negotiating the House plans, or offering his own plan, the president uses his bully pulpit to simply attack them.

All the while, we are drowning in debt. Our infrastructure is decaying. We continue to lose millions of American jobs to more competitive countries overseas.

Since Jan. 1 our treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, has been using “extraordinary measures” to pay our governments bills. He has been paying the bills of the United States of America with money intended for our federal employees’ pension plan. If he were in the private sector, where he would have to comply with the laws everyone else does, Mr. Geithner would be in prison.

As a tax attorney and CPA, I have never seen a business run this way succeed.

It is not too late, but we have been warned over and over by leading economists, liberal and conservative, that time is running short. We must strive in this brief extension of the debt ceiling to look past the next crisis, past the polls, and begin to develop a long-term, positive solution. We need not start from scratch. Plans have been offered again and again. Pick one and lets begin.

It will require cooperation from both parties. Neither will get everything they want. But it will require leadership.

If we are serious about solving our nation’s fiscal problems, the time for political posturing is over. Let’s get busy.

U.S. Rep. Rice is a Republican representing South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District.

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